Here at Fuqua, we practice holistic admissions, which means that no one component of the application is a ‘make or break’ factor in your likelihood of being admitted. That being said, the first questions most prospective students ask are related to their academic readiness. So I’d like to share some tips that will help you prepare for applying to and attending business school.

Decide whether the GMAT or GRE is best for you.

The GMAT is the exam that has historically been accepted by business schools, so if you’re only applying to business school, you may choose to take it. Or if you plan to search for jobs in management consulting or investment banking, some of those firms require a GMAT score. However, if you are applying to graduate programs in areas other than business, you may wish to take the GRE instead.

Remember that both GMAT and GRE scores are valid for five years, so I always recommend that students take the test while they’re still an undergraduate student, even if you’re waiting a year or two to apply to business school. It’s much easier to study for and take a test when you’re still in ‘student mode’ rather than in the workforce.

Practice, practice, practice for your chosen test.

Map out a study schedule for yourself, and go ahead and book your exam date. That way, you have a deadline that you’re working toward, and you’ll be less likely to put off studying. Free practice tests are available for both the GMAT and GRE, so definitely take advantage of these resources, and simulate the testing environment when you do. You can find additional study tips here.

Finish the academic year strong!

Don’t let your excitement for business school distract you from your final undergraduate classes. We require all admitted students to submit their final official transcripts and need to make sure you upheld your academic excellence throughout your entire degree. Avoid the senior slump!

Consider taking an online course to bolster your quantitative readiness.

If you haven’t taken calculus, linear algebra, statistics, or lack programming skills, consider taking one of these courses through Coursera or other online learning platforms. Many courses are free, and there are even several relevant course sequences taught by Duke faculty, including Statistics with R and Excel to MySQL: Analytic Techniques for Business. You should share information on the application about any supplemental courses you’ve taken in the Optional Information section of the essays page. If you’re planning ahead and still have time to take a programming class from your undergraduate institution, consider challenging yourself!

You’re admitted—now what?

All students admitted to the MQM: Business Analytics program are required to complete pre-assignments prior to orientation in financial accounting, Excel, and coding in R and Python. Start these as early as you can, ideally as soon as we give you access to them. You want to be as academically prepared as you can be since starting a new program involves many transitions. Most of you will be moving to a new city and some of you to a new country, which requires some time to adjust. You’ll also be meeting new friends and attending lots of events. Having your pre-assignments done and out of the way before you get to Durham will allow you to focus on everything else. Some of the assignments are tied to your Summer Term grades, so that’s extra incentive to get them done!